Misty morning in the valley, Dzong in the afternoon
17.10.2016 - 17.10.2016 23 °C
There was a cloud of mist covering the Phobjikha Valley this morning when we awoke. John got up early to walk back to the small stupa we passed on yesterday's hike, his aim was to photograph it as the sun lit up the valley. I finished off our packing and went to breakfast on my own. John returned triumphant, not only having captured the image of the stupa but also a young monk walking along the track. He managed a quick breakfast before we set off on the road to Punakha.
Whilst the road was still in a terrible condition, our early start enabled us to beat a lot of the traffic and we made reasonable time as we once again "shaked, rattled and rolled" our way to Punakha. Arriving at lunch time we stopped at the Phuenzhi Diner which gets a reasonable write up in the Lonely Planet guide. It was another awful buffet so we were not impressed with the Lonely Planet's recommendation on this place. We checked in to the lovely Dhensa Resort, quickly dumped our luggage and set off again to visit the Punakha Dzong, arguably the most beautiful Dzong in the country. Set on the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu (rivers) and it is accessed by a traditional styled cantilever bridge. We toured through the Dzong complex, wandering around its courtyards and visiting its beautiful and ornate temple. It's not until you are inside that you realise how immense the structure is and the details in the architecture can be appreciated. But to me the Dzong is best viewed from the outside along the river's edge where the scene is picture perfect.
Proceeding back towards the hotel, we made our final stop for the day at Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery. Perched on a ridge overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang, the nunnery is in a stunning location. The nunnery complex houses a higher learning centre for nuns, teaching them life skills as well as their religious training. We loved this smaller complex and thought its temple to be more intimate and interesting than some of the larger temples we have visited.
Tonight at our hotel the staff put on a small cultural performance. They were so sweet and quite shy and some of them giggled their way through the performance. We found it quite charming. Wandered into the dining room after the performance where the delicious aromas from the buffet dishes assaulted our senses. Dhensa's buffet was fantastic and the best food we have eaten in Bhutan. The entire dining experience was faultless and we returned to our room feeling exhausted after the activities of the last few days. Another early night for us as there is more hiking again tomorrow.